Director Alain Resnais’s STAVISKY… is a stylized recounting of the life of Alexandre Stavisky, a masterful swindler who sold thousands of worthless bonds, working his way into a massive financial hole and drowning in a riotous political scandal. The film focuses on his heyday, which came in the years just before his arrest and subsequent death in 1934. Surrounded by an aristocratic class of financiers who, like Stavisky, delighted in transferring enormous sums among a multitude of accounts around Europe, he was an expert at moving money. Stavisky inhabited the lavish wooden parlors and grandiose theaters of Paris, the ocean overpasses and casinos of Biarritz, with sexy cars, planes, and women to get him from place to place. The delectably glossy filming of STAVISKY…, like its dialogue, is sharp, pointed, tightly framed, and complex. Every scene contains a lingering spatial depth and a feeling of weighted drama, colored by flashbacks and dream sequences that are rendered with fragile grace. All the while, a narrator who watches through binocular lenses follows the subtle subplots of Stavisky’s love affairs, sporting affairs, and legal affairs. When Stavisky is arrested in the middle of a dinner party (reminiscent of Resnais’s LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD with red wine spilled dramatically across the white tablecloth and a bejeweled woman in a cocktail dress careening through the air like a wounded bird), the ugly end is near. A thumping musical score from Stephen Sondheim completes this masterwork, sprinkling it with noirish spice.
Young Depardiou !